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Bordeaux white wine 'main victim' of hailstorm

AFP

A hailstorm that devastated a wide swath of the Bordeaux winegrowing region last weekend will affect dry white wine output and have a marked knock-on effect on price and availability, according to the local Wine Professionals Council.

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Dry white Bordeaux wine of the 2013 vintage is likely to become a rare commodity after a brief hailstorm destroyed more than five percent of the entire region’s vineyards last weekend.

The 15-minute hailstorm on August 2 stripped leaves and grapes from the vine while shredding the wood, devastating at least seven thousand of Bordeaux’s total 115,000 hectares.

Altogether, some ten percent of the region was affected to various degrees. Many unlucky winegrowers in the Entre-Deux-Meres area, between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers saw their crops completely destroyed, just one month before harvesting is due to begin.

The damage will be felt into next year and will particularly affect the region’s dry white output, according to the Bordeaux Wine Professionals Council (CIVB).

“The Entre-Deux-Meres region is where much of Bordeaux’s dry white wine is produced,” CIVB spokesman Christophe Château told FRANCE 24. “While in Bordeaux there is a lot of red wine in stock, the same does not go for the whites. This storm will certainly affect prices and availability.”

Last weekend’s hailstorm was “exceptional”, said Château, comparing it with unseasonal frosts in the spring of 1991 that destroyed or damaged much of that year’s output.

Even without the devastating storm, winegrowers in Bordeaux were set for a difficult year, with the agriculture ministry predicting an eight percent drop in production compared to the same period last year.

“This storm was a damaging and dramatic event that could not have come at a worse time,” said Château, who explained that many of the Entre-Deux-Meres winegrowers were not insured and faced losing everything.

But despite Bordeaux’s woes, the broader outlook for French wine is positive.

The agriculture ministry on Thursday released predictions of a bumper harvest in Burgundy, Languedoc-Roussillon Champagne, Charentes and Corsica, with an overall growth of 11 percent compared to last year.

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